Turn A Gundam is the 1999 entry into this long running, popular Japanese mecha anime franchise produced by Sunrise. It is also notable for being the first Gundam mecha designed entirely by a foreigner, American conceptual artist Syd Mead, whose designs have been used in such films as Blade Runner.
Set in the Correct Century 2345, which would be a different calendar era from the previous Gundams, Turn A follows the exploits of the male protagonist Loran Cehack. In Collection 1, the Earth is a technologically simple civilization whose development has been stunted by previously devastating events. The moon is populated by Moonrace people who fled Earth to live in more technologically advanced moon colonies until such a time they deemed Earth was fit to return populate the moon. Loran is part of a small group of friends who were sent down to earth to quietly live amongst the people and determine if the planet was fit for the Moonrace to return. Having enjoyed his time on Earth, Loran is gladly awaiting the day when his Moonrace people will assimilate with the people. He is shocked when the Moonrace launches an all out assault on the people of Earth. Loran is able to come to their aid only by coincidence on the night of his coming of age ceremony when the ancient White Doll statue the people worship comes alive and he realizes it is actually a mechanical, humanoid robotic fighting machine – Moonrace technology — that can help him and the people of Earth defend themselves.
Turn A is arguably one of the great turning points of this beloved franchise, helping to bring together nascent plotlines and different timelines, mecha, and centuries into one cohesive, giant story arc. This first collection finally brings the ongoing tensions between the “Moonrace” and the “Earthlings” to a head in what we know will eventually become even wider in scope.
The first part of this series begins like so many of the Gundam entries, very earthbound, character-driven, and pastoral, before expanding into large-scale socio-political ideas that can be placed on top of things we deal with in the real world. Political maneuvering, the elite royalty and military like Dianna Counter or the Heim family versus the poor and middle class, different factions pit against one another, or the advanced societies against developing ones – these are all themes explored in this first set of 25 episodes alone.
Turn A was the last of the Gundams to mostly use hand painting on cels and the animation style looks breathtaking at times. For something gained, there always seems to be something lost. While today’s digital anime can certainly dazzle, and often does, there is something organic and visceral about this anime done on film that the more sanitized digital medium can’t quite capture.
This done on film anime looks quite good given its age. Turn A Gundam arrives in an AVC 1080p encodement in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It’s relatively clean apart from a few specs here and there and some frames that look a little grainier than others. It has been cleaned up nicely, but detail still remains. It hasn’t been overly smoothed over and colors look naturally saturated.
The original Japanese-language stereo mix is offered in LPCM 2.0 and it sounds good with a reasonable amount of dynamic range, strong stereo imaging and clean dialogue.
There isn’t much included on this first collection. Only the clean openings and closings, actually.
The Final Assessment
The classic mecha series Turn A Gundam gets off to a magnificent start in the first 25 episodes of Collection 1 from RightStuf. The action-packed and dramatic story arc is well served by a strong restoration on Blu-ray from Sunrise.
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